If you can’t tell from the photos, we’ve been trying to eat the rainbow over here. Toddlers can be picky eaters, even when you try delaying sweets and exposing them to veggies early on, and finding meals that multitask in the nutrition department has become essential when we find ourselves fielding requests for cereal and mac and cheese everyday. Everest avoids several easy-to-love foods (like potatoes?!?) and generally eats like a bird, but thankfully, he really enjoys pasta, which gives me a lot of options for adding some good-for-you toppings and sauces. This simple, tasty pasta primavera is not only easy to make, it allows for adding all sorts of vegetables and yields a tasty mix of nutrition and comfort. We mentioned it’s easy, right? This dish was one of the very first things I learned to cook, when I was around middle-school age.
- 1 lb. pasta (we like fusilli—rotini or penne would work well, too)
- ½ a large yellow onion (or one small)
- 3 cloves garlic
- Rainbow assortment of veggies—my go-tos include broccolini, cherry tomatoes, and bell peppers. Spinach, eggplant, and zucchini also work well with this dish.
- 1 cup feta cheese (we prefer to buy the solid block in brine, but crumbled works, too)
- high-quality extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil
- Add a dash of salt, 1 tbsp of olive oil, and pasta to boiling water
- Cook according to package directions (for me this was 8 minutes) until al dente
- Drain pasta and put back in pot with a little olive oil to keep from sticking
- While water is heating up, add enough oil to coat the bottom of a large sauté pan (I used about 2 tbsp) and warm over medium heat
- Thinly slice onion and toss into warmed pan, cook until soft and sweet, about 5 minutes, stirring often
- Wash, dry, and chop all veggies except garlic into bite-sized pieces and add it to the caramelized onions, cook until just tender — I like mine with a bit of crunch left, using the broccolini as my guide
- Roughly chop the garlic and add to the pan, cooking just until fragrant, about 1 minute
- Season with salt and pepper to taste
- Add the veggies to the pot of pasta and stir
- Just before serving, roughly chop feta and add to the pot of pasta, mixing to get that perfect ever-so-slightly-melted cheese
Voila! Boil some water, sauté some veggies, toss together with cheese and you’ve got yourself a well-rounded, delicious meal in no time. I try not to eat pasta too often, but this is a really easy weeknight meal that is both satisfying and nutritious and is toddler-approved. If you’re looking for added protein, some shrimp or grilled chicken would pair well with these flavors. We topped our bowls with some freshly picked basil and parsley since we grow our own, but feel free to omit or toss in whatever herbs you enjoy and have on hand.
What are you favorite veggie-loaded meals?
Jenna is a writer, educator, wife, and mama living in Colorado with her husband and two children. She founded American Ingenue as a personal blog in 2008 after losing her mother to breast cancer, using the forum as a reminder to live life to the fullest. Jenna loves cooking, dreaming, and adventuring with her family. She has been inspired to share her experiences with others as she navigates this crazy life and strives to have "it all."